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Tech Talk

Federally mandated health insurance made easy


Three years after the Affordable Healthcare Act was signed into law, the Jan. 1, 2014, deadline is fast approaching for uninsured Americans to either acquire health insurance or pay a penalty. Thankfully, the federal government has established a powerful and slick website to help find a policy that best fits their healthcare needs.

On Oct. 1, will officially go live, allowing visitors to enroll themselves or their entire family in a healthcare plan. While most people’s impression of working with the government involves mountains of paperwork, W-2s, worksheets and ever-present concerns of being audited, is much more streamlined than one would think.

After entering your age, gender and state of residence, the site operates very similarly to a travel site, breaking down available insurance options by price, provider, potential add-ons and all qualifications. Of course, the steps are rather easy to follow, but for those who are technologically impaired, the site offers state-by-state personal assistance. Plus the site offers policy help for the currently insured as well. If you don’t like your employer-provided health-plan, shows all available options. The site even boasts that nearly four out of five Americans can lower their healthcare costs to less than $100 per month by using the exchange website.

Thankfully was built with the ultimate goal of transparency. While the site was built by government employees, its concept, layout and features were developed from open source, brainstorming and usability testing. Even the color scheme and link layout were designed with help from user feedback. Like any website, it’s going to experience launch issues, but site developers plan to update and strengthen its features with pace and frequency mirroring major social networks and popular smartphone applications.

Now, obviously there is quite a bit of commotion going on in our nation’s capital that may prevent the Affordable Care Act from ever coming to fruition. But just in case everything does go as planned, it is nice to see the government has its act together enough to make the process rather easy. Now, if only the IRS would join the 21st century. CV

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Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.

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